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Helvie knife blades:thicker than most?

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  • Helvie knife blades:thicker than most?

    I've been following Don Mertz (woodbeecarver.com) for a while and developing a lust for his Helvie Signature model knives: Sidekick and Scimitar. Chanced on 1 of each at the Helvie booth at the Charlotte NC Woodcarvers' Showcase. My first Helvie knives.

    While they are gorgeous and extremely well-made, they are much thicker than I am used to. Is this normal for Helvie knives? I'm really tempted to thin their profiles, but I want to allow for the possibility that they are thicker for a reason, and I may just need to adapt to them.

    I figured I would need to allow for some "adaptation" time since they are designed specifically for doing slicing cuts, but I think the thickness is getting in my way. Please let me know if I am wrong based on your experience with Helvie knives. Maybe this is limited to the Don Mertz Signature models?

    I figured I'd check here before contacting Helvie and/or Don. Might save me from embarrassing myself to them.

    Thanks,
    Doug

  • #2
    Just to be sure...when you say thickness, do you mean how thick the piece of steel was, or the width from cutting edge to blade back? Assuming it's actual thickness of the steel used, I believe that Helvies in general are .033 thick. The thinest I have is an Allen Goodman Scimitar that is .030. For comparison, My Flexcuts are .050 thick. The Helvies and my Goodman will flex quite nicely, which is handy for some cuts; the Flexcut (refers more to gouges than knives) is very stiff and doesn't flex at all. I prefer the Flexcut when making curved stop cuts, as it's easier to follow the line I draw. As soon as I have the stop cut done, I use one of the flexible blades to remove the wood up to the stop cut. I have no trouble making slicing cuts with my Helvies (I have 6 of them)

    Measurements were all made with a digital caliper.

    BTW, Don Mertz's signature series knives are made by Helvie.

    Here are a couple of threads for you: https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...-detail-knives
    https://forum.woodcarvingillustrated...de-thicknesses


    Claude
    My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/

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    • #3
      I also have an Allen Goodman; I'd call it an "upsweep" rather than a "scimitar", but it's just semantics. Mine also measures about .033" and it's my goto knife. I really love this knife!

      By contrast my Helvie Don Mertz Signature Series 26 Side Kick II measures 0.054" and the blade edge profile begins only 3/16" from the edge, less than half the blade width of 1/2". My Helvie Don Mertz Signature Series 2 Scimitar measures 0.060"!

      I just reread the specs for these knives on the Helvie web site. Both are supposed to be about 0.035" thick. I 'll be contacting Rich @ Helvie and asking him if he could recheck my knives and and possibly regrind them so they match the specs.

      Doug

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      • #4
        I'm not an expert on blade thickness but I have a bunch of Helvies and use them almost exclusively. They're stiff enough for heavy cutting work and flex nicely when I need them to. Never had a problem with a Helvie knife.
        Keep On Carvin'
        Bob K.

        My Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/rwkwoodcarving


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        • #5
          Allen's knives are about as thin as they get. Helvies tend to be thicker but are still thin enough to be outstanding carvers.
          Terry

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          • #6
            Before contacting Rich I did some double-checking of the information I thought I had collected. I was wrong on several things. Yeah, I'm embarrassed.

            It turns out that the 2 knives I bought ARE designed to be unusually thicker than most. The Don Mertz Scimitar is spec'd at 0.055" thick, which matches my direct measurements. I also discovered that the other knife I bought is not the Series 26 Side Kick II, but is the Helvie Don Mertz Signature Series 16-2 Side Winder, which is spec'd at 0.0575". I will keep trying to adapt to them for a while before I consider either selling them or thining their profiles myself.

            I reckon I'm more spoiled by my thin Goodman knife than I realized, but I am a fan of Don Mertz' "Whittle-Carving" style so feel I should give them another chance.

            For those who don't know of Don Mertz, I encourage you to check out his blog at http://woodbeecarver.com/. He makes some great carvings and chooses to use only a knife (no gouges).

            Doug

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            • #7
              Yeah some thing I didn't know until the helvie lady told me in Charlotte was that they make a rough out knife , & a rough out knife medium .. What she was referring to was the thickness of the blades & not the actual length of the blades . I never knew this .

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              • #8
                One more thing to be embarrassed about...

                Both knives appeared to be sharp enough, as is, but I decided to give them a brief pass on a fine diamond stone followed by a leather strop. This made quite a difference in my perception of their cutting performance. Lesson learned: always prepare a new knife before using it.

                Doug

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                • #9
                  Went out this morning and did some measuring with my digital calipers. Here's the data.
                  Claude
                  My FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ClaudesWoodCarving/

                  My Pinterest Page: https://www.pinterest.com/cfreaner/

                  My ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaudesWoodcarving

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                  • #10
                    • Thanks for the data Claude very interesting to see this .

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